Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Too Good Not To Share

I'm not one for posting recipes very often but I just couldn't pass on this one. It was way too good not to share.

My sister had dropped off a bunch of broasted chicken that she had leftover and I didn't want (well I DID want to but I wouldn't let myself) to eat the unhealthy skin so I went online to find a good chicken soup recipe. I am so sick of making the same thing all the time and wanted to try something new.

After a short search I found a Tuscan Chicken inspired soup that I altered with some of my favorite flavors. This is what I ended up with:
It was SO good. My hubby is a big soup fan and he LOVED it. He said it was one of his all-time favorites so that is saying something. I even gave my mom (another big soup fan) a take home cup (the hubby didn't even want to share!) and she loved it too. It has light and zesty flavors and yet is very satisfying.

I tend to shy away from making soups because usually it is an all day affair. Soups take me forever to make. It is the all day simmering and chopping and blending. Ugh! But this soup was so quick and easy I know I'll be making this one often.

Prep Time: 10 Minutes Cook Time: 20 Minutes Servings: 8

2 (10.75 oz) Campbell's Condensed Cream of Celery Soup (I used the 98% Fat Free)
4 Cups of Water
1 (15 oz) Can of Great Northern Beans or White Kidney Beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15 oz) Can of Chick Peas
2 (14.5 oz) Cans of Diced Tomato, undrained (I used the low sodium)
4 Cups of shredded or cubed cooked chicken
1/4 Cup bacon bits
6 Ounces of Baby Spinach
1 Tablespoon of minced garlic
Olive Oil
Grated Parmesan Cheese

1- Heat tablespoon of minced garlic in some olive oil in a kettle on low heat until garlic is a light golden. Do not burn.
2- Add soup, water, beans, chick peas, tomato, chicken, and bacon into the kettle over medium-high heat to a boil for 15-20 minutes. Add salt to taste (I used about a teaspoon).
3- Stir in the spinach. Cook for 5 minutes or until the spinach is wilted. Serve the soup with the grated cheese and chopped Cilantro (hubby liked a ton of cilantro, but I had just a tad) sprinkled over the top.

See? How easy is that??? EASY! And it goes great with garlic roasted bread. Yum!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Making Amends

Joey was feeling a little anxious today as he returned to school. He was a bit nervous that the kids would tease him for Friday's little incident. And he was feeling especially remorse for Chantel* after what she endured. Joey was so appreciative of how kind she was to him, asking him if he was okay, even while her back and her hair were covered in... well, you get the picture.

Chantel* was so lovely that we decided she deserved a little present. When Joey was feeling 100% on Saturday we headed out to the dollar store and Joey picked out some pretty pens, notepads, a clipboard, and some stickers for his sweet classmate.
When we got home Joey made her a card too.
On the inside Joey wrote: "Dear Chantel*, I am sorry I got sick on you. Thank you for being nice. Love, Joey" He completed the card with a bunch of butterflies, which are her favorite.

Joey was very excited about the present. I think it made him feel as though he had a little control over the situation. That he could make it better. And I hope it does.

AND, Hopefully, this will be the last "sorry I puked on you" present that we will ever have to buy.

(*Name was changed to protect the innocent victim)

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Birthday Curse

PhotoStory Friday

It happens every year. Every. Single. Year.

We used to schedule a nice night out for my birthday. We would make reservations at one of my favorite restaurants, scan the papers for a good movie, and make sure we had a sitter for the kids. And every year the inevitable would happen and we would have to cancel it all because one or more of the kids got sick. Even on my thirtieth birthday I couldn't escape the curse. I was up all night holding puke bowls under both of my kiddos faces.

After years of this scenario playing out we stopped making plans for my birthday.

So, it was no surprise when Joey woke up yesterday and said that his tummy hurt. He was moaning and crying so hard he couldn't even wolf down his cereal as he normally does. When he is not able to eat (the kid is a bottomless pit!) I know something is really wrong so I kept him home from school. Still, part of me was suspicious that he really just wanted to stay home to watch the landscapers whiz around our backyard in a Bobcat as they leveled out the ground and planted all of our grass and new trees.

Throughout the day Joey seemed to feel better and better though he still had stomach pains from time to time. The day was going pretty well. My mother-in-law brought me these:
A very favorite of mine. Chocolate covered raspberries! Mmmm.

My mom made me my favorite. Carrot cake! It is practially health food!
Everyone made my birthday special and it turned out to be a great day. My best friend even sent me a gift certificate to my favorite restaurant so Todd ran out and got some take out for us after the boys were in bed. Add in Survivor, The Office, 30 Rock, and a little Captain and Coke and was a relaxing and fun birthday. And I didn't even get puked on!
Cut to this morning. Joey was feeling fine. He ate most of his cereal. Got ready for school. Told me that his tummy hurt a little but that he was fine. Off to school he went.

An hour later I got a call from school. Joey just puked all over one of his classmates. Poor kid. Both of them. I don't know who I feel sorrier for. Joey, for being the kid who puked in class, or his friend for getting puked on.


Joey is at home now. Resting comfortably and watching the landscapers finish the yard. When he is feeling better this weekend I think we will run out to the store and pick up a little gift for his classmate. Kind of a "Sorry I puked on you" present. I think she deserves it for taking my place in the birthday curse.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


How on earth did I get here so quickly? I have four children? Really? I have a seven year old who is joining Cub Scouts, and winning Student of the Month awards, and reading in front of church? Really? I have a five year old helping me fold laundry, sweep up floors, make his bed? How can that be? I have a three year old who gets dressed all by himself, puts on his shoes, and zips his jacket by himself? When did that happen? I have a BABY GIRL who is rolling and scooting all over the floor, swinging on swings, laughing at her brothers, and throwing her little arms around me giving me squeezes? Seriously? When did this happen?

I swear sometimes I still feel like I am the babysitter. I feel like any minute I should turn to the oldest child and say, "So, do you know when your mommy will be home?" Yet, I am the mommy. I am responsible for these FOUR little ones. Me. How is that possible? Am I old enough to be doing this? Am I qualified to be preparing healthy meals, and setting doctor's appointments, meeting with teachers, keeping the kids clean/fed/clothed/well rested, teaching them all they need to know? After all, I'm just a kid myself.

And then I remember. I'm not a kid anymore. I'm not even in my twenties. In fact, I am on the precipice of my mid thirties. But I still feel like a kid. I still feel exactly as I did 10 or (gulp) 15 years ago.
And yet, they all call me "mom". And when he gets hurt he comes running to me. And when I walk in the room her whole face lights up. And when he succeeds I am the first to know. And when he is sad he needs a hug from me. And every time they reach another milestone my chest swells with pride. And when I see them happy I am happy too.

I don't know how I got here. I don't know what happened to the breezy, carefree days of my youth. And tomorrow I will be yet another year older. Time keeps on rolling by, picking up speed as it goes. But I will do my best to slow it down. Because, as it turns out, these are the best years of my life. No matter how I got here.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Has It Been Two Weeks Already?

Okay, so I've been gone a little while. I honestly didn't mean for that to happen but one thing led to another and before I knew it I'd been away for two weeks. Oops.

The first week I was away was mostly because I was feeling blah and icky and down on myself. It must have been posting those pics of me in my swimming suit that did it. I just felt so yucky. I stopped running (thinking, what's the point?) and ate like a cow. I didn't feel much like doing anything but moping. Real mature, I know.

The second week I snapped myself out of it. I hung up some curtains I've been meaning to hang (and fell in love with using Todd's power tools). I started eating right and running again. And I soaked up as much sunshine as I could. It helped tremendously. My mood is much better now, thank goodness, and I was able to have some fun with the kiddos.

So, this is what we've been doing.

Of course, there was Easter. It looked like this:
And this:
And this too:
And right after Easter the weather was shockingly warm and we did some of this:
Blowing bubbles and drawing with chalk. Good times. The boys have been mostly confined to the front driveway/road and the back patio because of our lack of grass so our play options are somewhat limited. Luckily, the grass is going to be planted next week so that, hopefully, by the time school is out we will have some hardy grass to play on.

Yesterday we had another hot day (84 degrees in Wisconsin in April is just completely bizarre, but I love it) and Grace got to have her first ever time on the swings. She loved it!
Our entire day was spent outside at the park and riding bikes up and down our street. It was a great day and once again reminded me how much I LOVE summer and can't wait for it to get here. I am so looking forward to running through the sprinkler with the boys, having bonfires in our backyard, listening to the lawn mowers throughout the neighborhood, smelling the fresh cut grass, seeing the big beautiful leaves on the trees again, drinking iced tea, cooking out, swimming at our favorite lake, more trips to the parks, eating watermelon/cherries/blueberries, camping out in our backyard, and soaking up all of summer's wonderfulness (yes. that is a word).

Today we are back to our normal 55 degree April weather so I am attempting to catch up on the laundry and cleaning that I've been putting off in favor of play. But while I fold and sort and match I will be dreaming of the perfect summer day that starts with breakfast on our back patio, over looking our lush GREEN lawn, continues on to a long day of swimming and happy children, and ends with a cookout, a bonfire, and carrying heavy, warm, sleepy children up to bed. Ahhhh.

What is your perfect summer day?

Friday, April 2, 2010

Overall I'd Give It A B+

It seems we've started a tradition.

Last year for spring break we took the boys to Tundra Lodge and Resort in Green Bay to play in the indoor waterpark and shake some of the winter gloom. It was so much fun we decided to one-up ourselves this year and take the kids to Wilderness Territory in Wisconsin Dells. We thought we had a lot of chaos last year with the three boys, but throw a fourth little one in there and it was chaos personified.

Much of the trip drove me crazy. The boys were way too sassy and whiny. Grace was way too tired. I was way too grouchy and harpy. Todd was way too moody. And yet we somehow managed to have a pretty great time.
Grace loved her very first swim suit.
Tommy loved following his daddy around,
and copying every thing that daddy did.
See how happy he is?
Ben was still very wary of the big bucket that dumped out water (especially after it dumped all over him, Grace, and myself and shocked us all, poor Grace) and didn't want to do much playing anywhere near it. Joey was off in a flash and I could barely get him to hold still long enough to catch a picture of him.
Here we are taking a breather to calm little Gracie down after she just got dumped on.
When she had calmed down we decided to head over to the wave pool. Todd stayed with Grace while I managed the boys in the waves. The waves were HUGE and I was surprised by how brave the boys were. We laughed so hard as the waves pounded us, one after another, that I could barely hold onto the raft. At one point one of the huge waves knocked the raft over and all three of the boys tumbled under the water. Luckily, I was able to grab all three in one fell swoop and get them back on the raft before the next wave hit. Whew! It was fairly impressive, if I do say so myself.
Here we are during one of the much needed rest periods.
All that swimming and playing wore us all out. After about 5 hours of playing in the water we were too tuckered to go out to eat. We decided to have dinner in our hotel room that night and then the kiddos all crashed.
Grace had fun waking them up the next morning. The boys loved their room so much that they didn't even want to get out of bed.
But, after their bowls of cereal the boys were ready for round 2. And so it started all over again.
The ride home went much better than the ride there. All the kiddos crashed and slept for a good portion of the 2 and a half hour drive.
Now we are back at home. Thankfully.
Though the trip did not start out the greatest, thanks to a lot of grouchy, whiny, sassy people (most especially me), it really did end well. And it showed us that we can probably take more trips and do more than we had anticipated. It is work. And it is exhausting. But in the end it is definitely worth it.

Words To Live By

Be grateful for each new day.
A new day that you have never lived before.
Twenty-four new, fresh, unexplored hours to use usefully and profitably.
We can squander, neglect, or use them.
Life will be richer or poorer by the way we use today.
Finish every day and be done with it.
You have done what you could;
some blunders and absurdities crept in;
forget them as soon as you can.
Tomorrow is a new day.
You shall begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be
encumbered with your old nonsense.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson